Though Traci Des Jardin’s elegant menu at Jardiniere did include an Impossible Burger, it was by no means a plant-based menu, featuring wagyu, duck, roast, chicken, and more. Now that the restaurant is closed, however, the space will take on a new, meatless life as Baia, a restaurant serving vegan Italian comfort food.
Jardinière closed in April after 21 years in business. At the time, Des Jardins said that the restaurant was “pretty healthy,” but “not thriving,” despite its now-advantageous location in bustling Hayes Valley. Immediately following its closure came speculation about who or what could take over such a restaurant. As it turns out, it will not, as Eater SF commenters guessed, be poké, fast-casual, or staffed by robots.
Instead, the roomy two-level restaurant space that was once a magnet for refined pre-theater diners will become a “plant-based restaurant concept focused on Italian-inspired cuisine in an elegant, upscale capacity.” It is the brainchild of Tracy Vogt, founder of animal sanctuary Charlie’s Acres, and chef Matthew Kenney, a vegan chef with restaurants in Los Angeles, New York, and around the globe.
Vogt, whose husband Kyle is the CEO and co-founder of GM’s self-driving car company Cruise, says a lack of vegan dining options in San Francisco spurred her to snatch up the space, combined with the cache of the restaurant space itself, designed by legendary Pat Kuleto in 1997.
Vogt tapped Kenney, who also runs a consultant business, to lead the concept after visiting the chef’s restaurants in other cities, according to the SF Chronicle. Kenney’s Venice location of Plant Food + Wine serves dishes like golden beet crudo with puffed wild rice and avocado crema, and hay-smoked gnocchi with pistachio cream; among many other businesses, Kenney’s hospitality group also runs multiple locations of a vegan pizza company, Double Zero, a smoothie and juice shop called Make Out, and a meatless deli named New Deli.
According to Kenney’s website, “the identity of Baia exists at the intersection of opulence and approachability; the menu will offer a selection of innovative gourmet dishes, inclusive of all dining preferences and accommodating to all occasions.” The restaurant will offer lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, with a full bar. Stay tuned for an opening timeline, menu, and more.